TALLAHASSEE, FL – The Senate Appropriations Committee today voted to pass Senate Bill 7030, which seeks to arm school teachers and expand the role of police in schools in spite of evidence that rather than prevent violence, guns in schools erode the relationships vital to preventing violence.
While the bill was amended to take steps toward addressing students’ mental health needs and combat the severe shortage of school-based mental health providers, it continues to allow districts to spend education and intervention dollars on surveillance technologies, guns, and metal detectors. Advocates including the ACLU of Florida have called on state elected officials to reject such policies that increase the school-to-prison pipeline.
The House companion version of this bill, HB 7093, is slated for a full House vote, and expands the state’s zero-tolerance policies and requires statewide social media surveillance - two approaches to school safety that have proven to be ineffective, costly, and disproportionately impact marginalized youth.
Micah Kubic, executive director of the ACLU of Florida responded to today’s vote saying:
“Florida policymakers continue to prioritize policing over supporting students. We need to do more to end the school-to-prison pipeline in Florida which disproportionately impacts students of color, students with disabilities and LGBTQ students. Transforming schools into prisons and stripping tomorrow’s leaders of their civil rights is simply wrong. We urge legislators to oppose this misguided bill and look to the proven methods that improve school environments and the quality of student’s education and development.”
Kara Gross, legislative director and senior policy counsel of the ACLU of Florida added:
“Police don't have clearly defined roles in schools; no required training to work with youth; no restrictions on what tools of policing they can use on children. This bill fails to address this and broadens the reach of police into classrooms. The impact of this is clear: over the last year, school arrests have increased, even as juvenile crime rates continue to fall to historic lows. Today’s youth are less likely to commit crimes than previous generations and are more likely to die of suicide than homicide, and we should react accordingly. We must ensure schools provide a healthy safe learning environment for all students, not a police state that prioritizes fear over students’ civil rights and healthy development.”